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Early 2020 Santa Rita harvest “most memorable and particularly challenging”

Published:  29 April, 2020

Santa Rita Estates (SRE) has pronounced the 2020 harvest as the “most memorable” but also as “particularly challenging within the context in which it developed”.

Having begun in February and ended in mid-April, it was the earliest vintage of the last 20 years, with the phenological stages completed early, including the sugar maturation (although with a lower potential alcohol level), which accelerated the onset of harvest by 15-20 days, said SRE in its newly released harvest report.

The initial yields were good in accordance with the favourable weather conditions, added viticultural manager Gerardo Leal.

These, however, were reduced by two main factors: the effects of frosts in some valleys - Casablanca and Palmilla - and significant water deficits in some valleys, including Maipo, Casablanca, Colchagua and Curicó, he said.

“The latter was due to scarce rainfall during winter which impacted in a number of ways: less snowfall over the Andes and therefore less meltwater and less actual rainwater in which to replenish the water table and fill the wells and dams resulting in less irrigation because of this lack of water. All this caused a loss of volume in the berries, resulting in a decrease in yields in all but the properties where we could irrigate during the winter." 

Referencing grape varieties, winemaker Sebastián Labbé, who is in charge of the ‘ultra-premium’ lines at Santa Rita, especially highlighted the Cabernet Sauvignon from Alto Jahuel, in the Maipo Valley.

“Year 2020 was great for Cabernet Sauvignon, with the wines having fresh fruit and floral notes recalling violets. There is a tremendous natural balance between the alcohol and the acidity, which ensures a long life for the wines of this vintage,” he said.

In addition, he said the 2020 vintage offered “remarkable conditions” for Carmenere in Apalta, in the Colchagua Valley, with it all harvested in March, with good levels of ripeness and an “excellent balance” between alcohol and acidity.

“This balance does not occur every year, so we truly celebrate vintages like this one”.

In terms of the white varieties, chief winemaker Emily Faulconer, chief winemaker of Viña Carmen, said: “The Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley moved its harvest date up by approximately one month. We harvested at different harvest times to obtain greater complexity and diverse profiles. The results are very attractive, with a balance between fresh herbal aromas and the citrus notes contributed by those blocks with greater ripeness.”

She referred to the Limarí Valley Chardonnays as “restrained and elegant”.

Established in 1880 Santa Rita, one of Chile’s oldest wineries, comprises Santa Rita, Carmen and Sur Andino wineries. It released its mid-harvest report at the end of last month.